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“Bait and Switch”

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Mahekal Beach Resort
Ranked #27 of 209 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
Certificate of Excellence
Boise, Idaho
Level Contributor
201 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
“Bait and Switch”
Reviewed 4 February 2014

I paid for 8 nights in an oceanfront room. Upon check-in, they put us in a room that was not oceanfront. We had pre-paid, the document clearly stated oceanfront, and the hotel refused to give us oceanfront until we paid an additional $1600. This is clearly a case of bait and switch. In Mexico this is standardized corruption in service. We would have given this resort a 5 star rating if they had not played their little game. Their $1600 will result in the worst word of mouth marketing and online reviews we can manage without embellishing our story or straying from the truth. The oceanfront room we received for our 2-8 nights, it wasn't available for night 1, was extremely nice. This would be the best resort in Playa if they did not operate in a dishonest and corrupt manner.

Room Tip: Do not stay here. They cannot be trusted.
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
9 Thank bdsbjmin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EmilioPalazuelos, General Manager at Mahekal Beach Resort, responded to this review, 6 February 2014
Dear Guest,
we are surprised to read your comment about your stay. As per our records, you booked an Ocean Front Room via a travel agency and you were checked-in to 32P, which is room type you booked, when you arrived. Room 32P is one of our few bungalow ocean front rooms and it is located only a few steps away from the beach.
The other room type you refer to is a Deluxe Ocean Front Room, which is a higher category. We now have five rooms like this in the resort and due to their unique design, location and outdoor private plunge pool, are more expensive than the regular ocean front rooms. Our receptionists always inform our guests about the extra amount they would need to pay to stay in a higher room category, as was the case when you took this room.
We had the impression that you left the hotel with nice memories about a pleasant stay, because you expressed this at the time of your departure.
We regret you now think you were cheated, however this was not the case. Our staff acted in good faith and the hotel never intended to mislead you or any of our guests. In case you still believe you paid more for the room than its published rates, please contact me directly, and I personally guarantee to you an immediate refund if it so happened.

Emilio Palazuelos – General Manager
Mahekal Beach Resort
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Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
32 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 February 2014

We spend 3 nights in a Garden Palapa View Room. The room was cozy with a nice view of the hammoc and the garden outside. The room was clean and the food included was fine. Nothing fancy but well prepared and alot of different dishes to chose from. Service was great, very friendly in both the restaurants and in the reception.

Two things (which really can't be blamed on the resort) annoyed us with this place: The smell at the beach (rotten egs) was not very nice. Plus the smell in the room from the palapa roof was bad. We solved this problem by letting the fan on so the air was "recycled".

Would recommend this place, if you go to Playa, as it was quiet and located in a great area.

Room Tip: The Garden Palapa was great- however the palapa was quite smelly. We stayed in 51B wich had a great...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Kristina M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 February 2014

Recently stayed at Mahekal for four nights and attended a wedding on premises. Mahekal is a blend between glamping (glamour camping), a hotel and a resort. It is not a traditional hotel, it is indeed very rustic as the majority of the "huts" have thatched roofs. There is no phone or TV in the rooms, but they do have electricity and AC. As far as my review, I'll break it down with pros and cons and I'll also leave a grey area for anything that wasn't great, but wasn't terrible either. The wedding there was really nice, weather was perfect and the setting was great. The reception got a bit warm, so we made them turn on the fans. See below for food reviews. We had a nice stay, but we were also in a paradise tropical climate, so Mahekal was adequate, but would have fallen below the mark if the location wasn't as perfect as it was.

Pros:
Awesome location... right in Playa, very close to 5th Ave which is loaded with Bars/Restaurants/Shops
Large private beach area... first come first serve, but plenty of lounge chairs on the beach
Cheap drink prices... I was surprised to see how modest the drink prices were and the drinks were stiff
Food... room comes with daily breakfast buffet and a choice of lunch (menu options) or dinner buffet
Hammocks... each unit has a small porch or deck that has two hammocks that are perfect for naps
Service... they responded to everything professionally and courteously
Shuttle... prompt and on time, had to wait a bit before we picked up everyone at the airport, but otherwise, the bus was comfy and the AC worked well
Value... for $250 a night, probably can't do much better

Gray Area:
Food... it was mediocre at best. I've had worse at resorts though, so I'm not saying it was terrible. That said, they did have fresh items and the fruit/vegetables at this resort seemed safe to eat. The fresh fruit juices in the morning are phenomenal.

Cons:
Flooded room... the hut was on a slant, the main room flooded after every shower (not every hut, just ours)
Thatched roofs... keeps out water, doesn't keep out noise... I now hate birds and you will too come your first experience with them every morning starting at about 6:45AM
Smell.. there is a sulfur type smell that comes in waves from the water (your guess is as good as mine) it was not pleasant and hits you when you open your door, but you get used to it
Mosquitoes... they get into the rooms, so if they hunt you like they hunt me, you're going to want to spray up before bed... hotel provides some natural bug spray.
Landscaping... the whole look and feel of Las Palapas (resort next door owned by mahekal) seemed to be a lot nicer and cleaner (lush grass, nicer beach area, nicer outdoor lunch area, etc...). I envy the green towel.

Room Tip: The rooms in the bottom half of the two story huts are the best bet for filtering some of the mornin...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Adam K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EmilioPalazuelos, General Manager at Mahekal Beach Resort, responded to this review, 7 February 2014
Thank you for taking the time to write your feedback about your stay. We find your comments very useful in order to get a picture on the services we could do better.
We are sorry for the inconveniences caused by the sulfur smell of the mangroves that sometimes happens after a heavy rain. There is not much we can do with the song of the birds and is difficult to control the mosquitos, as the flora and fauna are really reach around the resort, at the same time we are trying to do our best to keep our beloved nature outside of the guest rooms. We are going to work on the areas you listed under your Cons, at the same time we are glad that you have enjoyed the location of the resort, the beach, our breakfast buffet and other services.
We hope to see you soon again in our tropical paradise,

Emilio Palazuelos - General Manager
Mahekal Beach Resort
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Celina, Texas
Level Contributor
2 reviews
Reviewed 3 February 2014

We were there from Jan 23-28th, 2014. Food was great, staff friendly, beautiful resort. Our room was perfect! Close to 5th avenue (like several blocks)....quiet.

Yes there is a sulphur smell sometimes, but did not bother us. Beach is gorgeous, but not very wide..not the resorts fault. Just listening to the waves and swinging in our hammock was really relaxing.

The two sister hotels joined together about 4 months ago...still working out kinks. Our room was actually in Las Palapas...ocean view # 030...right across from the pool and the beach club/bar. They do need to give you a list of all restaurants on both premises...and they do have different breakfasts and maybe even dinners....we never figured that out. But we tried them all and we were not disappointed.

I do think they should provide water in the room every day and they need new softer beds.

Would definitely recommend and we saw the iguana our last morning there!

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Sandy K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cartwright
Level Contributor
61 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 February 2014

We stayed here Jan 18-26. The package that our friends purchased for 8 days averaged $250/night. We stayed at an MUCH nicer resort in Cancun for $150/night WITHOUT the sticky smell of sewer. Boy, after reading these reviews, I expected a luxurious resort...and this is far from luxurious. I wondered if those people actually stayed at the same place I was staying at, or maybe they had paid ALOT less.
The idea behind this place is good; seclusion with no TV and nothing from the outside world to bother you. There was wifi access only at the office and somewhat by poolside so computer checking could not be done in the room.
The rooms were quaint, but they had plastic sheets on under the mattress pad so the first few nights were like sleeping in a sweat lodge even with the AC, which dripped water on our head continually. It was much better after I removed the plastic sheet, but then I was able to see the filthy mattress underneath...disgusting. We cold also hear constant water running in the shower drain as the shower partition is open to the bedroom.
The location is great, but the CONSTANT controversial smell of sewer made it impossible for us to sit at the beach. The brown, silty water that washes up on shore make me question the safety of swimming there as I believe there is a sewage dump close by.
The waiters EXCELLENT! One waiter told us he works 60+hours/week there so please give personal tips if staying there. Their food is excellent also.
The maid was friendly and efficient, although I only let her give us more water and towels after remaking the bed. She was the same maid all 8 days we were there.
We weren't impressed for our first trip to Mexico and would not stay here again unless the cost was SIGNIFICANTLY less.

Room Tip: Do yourself a favor and find a better place for the money.
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Amber S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Concord, New Hampshire
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 February 2014

We just returned from a one week visit to Playa del Carmen.
We stayed at the Mahekal Beach Resort. I had stayed there in 1991 when it was known as the ShangriLa Caribe. It has grown quite a bit under the present management, which has owned it for about 5 years and also owns the resort next door, Las Palapas.
About the resort: our opinion is overwhelmingly positive. They have a variety of options for rooms – some right on the beach, with the waves lapping under your front porch; others slightly set back, called “ocean view” and that is what we had. Others are “garden view.” We loved our room (16 Playa) – it was very large, had 2 queen beds ( I had requested a king, but they don't guarantee room types and we loved the room location so much that it was worth not having the king), and was furnished with a dresser, large closet, separate closet with safe, a desk/vanity with chair and mirror, a full-length mirror on another wall, plenty of electrical outlets, a nice tiled bathroom, counter space and excellent shower with plenty of hot water and good water pressure. There is a built-in shelf that extends along the entire wall behind the beds with two good reading lamps and more space for stuff. The wall across from the beds had three huge windows with screened casements that opened, another huge window that looked out onto our private terrace, and the terrace was about 10' x 12', outfitted with two hammocks, a lounge chair, a small round table and two chairs to pull up to it, a built-in banquette on one side, and a laundry line with clothespins for wet bathing suits, etc. Our room looked across one of the resort's two swimming pools and jacuzzi to the sea, immediately below the deck area on the far side of the pool, where you can eat breakfast and lunch (or sit around any other time). The room had a/c which we never used and a ceiling fan, which we did use.
The room was immaculate and was cleaned daily by a woman who left us charming animals fashioned from that day's towels, adorned with hibiscus blossoms.
The room rate included two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, although you can switch out lunch for dinner if you want to go elsewhere for dinner. We thought the food was fantastic. Breakfast was a buffet which included anything you could possibly want, from fresh fruit; yogurt/granola/raisins/cranberries; oatmeal; meats/cheeses; Mexican sweet rolls, croissants, and all kinds of pastries, etc. They even had a dispenser of lactaid milk, which we both use and never expected to find. The tables all had a tent card with various kinds of eggs, omelets, etc. that can be ordered from the waiters who serve you coffee, etc. at no extra charge. There was no limit to the amount of food you could take and it was nice to feel like you could take some fruit and yogurt, for example, and then go back and have a little pastry, etc., and not have to mound up your plate to get everything you might possibly want to eat in one trip. There were plenty of tables in the breakfast restaurant, La Loma, but you could also sit at one of the tables by the pool, with the palm trees over head and the waves just a few feet away (not a lot of tables, and they are very popular, so get there early and stake your claim). The waiters continually circled, bringing coffee, taking away used dishes, and were without exception, incredibly hard-working, genial, and polite. In fact, one of the most impressive things about this resort to us was the quality of their staff. They were just fantastic.
We ate lunch there several times, ordering off the menu and sitting by the pool, alongside the beach. The lunch options varied from light (guacamole and handmade chips) to a fantastic Caesar salad with still warm, very tasty slices of chicken that had just been grilled.
Dinners were offered in a variety of ways – some nights the entree was a choice of several items on a menu, served by the waiters in the main restaurant/dining room, with all of the side dishes on a buffet. Other nights, everything was a buffet. There were many choices, including vegetarian main dishes. One night, a chef individually sauteed your choice of shrimp, vegetable, and type of sauce over your choice of type of pasta, to go with 3 or 4 different salads, empanadas, etc. All of the food was excellent quality, fresh ingredients, not overcooked, imaginatively prepared. There were always a choice of several desserts. We are not drinkers, but I think there's an extra charge for alcohol, don't know how much. Some people on Trip Advisor complained about the charge for water and other drinks at dinner. I guess that didn't bother us because the charge was so small and the rest of the food was so good. Again, like breakfast, there seemed to be no limit to how many times you could go to the buffet, and what you could take.
We were taken aback by the small “propina” or tip included with the check that you sign at the end of dinner. It appeared to be calculated as 10% only of the items you had to pay extra for, so for example, there's no charge for dinner, but about 60 pesos for a coffee and a coke, so a propina of 5 pesos is added to the bill. This is about 75 cents! There's a place where you can add an extra propina, and I hope most guests do, because the service is amazing and those waiters work so hard we were really impressed. They run from one end of the resort to the other, including serving guests on the beach itself.

The pathways through the resort are lit by small concrete “mushrooms” with tile mosaic decorations that provide ample light during the evenings without ruining the mood. The reception area was large, also lit in a subdued manner, with candles and orchids plants on a central table. The reception folks spoke excellent English (and may well speak many other languages) and were very helpful in all ways. There are, as other people on Trip Advisor noted, many security guards both in the resort and around Playa del Carmen. The resort is at the end of a dead-end street and the public beach access goes through the center of the resort. There is a fence around the resort but the wooden walkway which traversed the public street from one section of Mehekal to the Playa section where we were does not have a gate. We never felt insecure or threatened in any way. It is clearly of major interest to the resort management as well as the government to have tourists feel safe, and we did at all times. It can be a little disconcerting when you live in a small New England town to walk or drive around and see machine-gun toting Federales patrolling but they were not demonstrative and we thought they were mostly just making their presence known, rather than for any particular threat.

There were only two aspects of Mahekal that we might criticize. The beach is beautiful to look at, but has been narrowed by erosion so that in a few places, people have to walk single file as they walk along at the edge of the water. Then the beach widens out so that there's more room in many places, and we certainly saw many people who were out for a run going along from one end of the beach to the other, but if you're looking for a huge flat beach, this might not be your cup of tea. The sand was very fine and very white, like sugar, and very clean. We saw no trash on the beach nor anywhere in Playa for that matter. There was no litter anywhere we walked in town or on the beach.

The other negative problem at Mehekal is an intermittent smell, which people on Trip Advisor also noted. We asked at reception and were told that when the resort expanded, they filled in the mangrove swamps at the edge of the water and the mangroves are now rotting. In all honesty, I didn't smell the odor more than a whiff once or twice, but my S.O. said it was pretty bad one night and woke him up. I think most of the time, especially if there's a breeze, this is not a problem, but felt I should mention it to be fair. They are working on solutions to this problem.

The location of the resort is just off Avenida Quinta, so is a couple of minutes walk from endless little stores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. It's fun just to take a walk early or late, engage in banter with the shop owners (“99% off! FREE! What? You don't believe me? I'm an honest crook!”) that made us laugh out loud, and find the occasional well-made, artisan object.

All in all, we were extremely happy with our stay at Mahekal, would recommend it highly to anyone looking for a beach vacation, or simply a really relaxing, warm weather, spot with great food and fantastic service.

Room Tip: We loved our location, 16 Playa. I think the second floor rooms have more privacy (a tip I picked u...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Frank W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, England, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 1 February 2014 via mobile

This was my second stay at Mehakal and my last stay was so good that I was afraid that it might not live up to my expectations, but I didn't need to worry. The location is terrific, quiet as its not in the centre of 5th Ave, but just a 5 minute walk to the start of the restaurant strip. The palapas were beautifully cleaned daily with fresh towels shaped by the genius cleaning staff into a variety of amusing shapes! The rooms had A/C and a fan, also a safe box. Kept spotless. Pools and beach were beautiful and the rest of my party couldn't prise me from the hot tub, which was a god send on the slightly cloudy days. The breakfasts and lunches were delicious, I recommend the coconut shrimp and club sandwich, also the shrimp tacos. Dinners were adequate (sometimes an ok buffet, sometimes very good a la carte) but we choose to eat out most nights in playa, as the restaurants are varied and good quality, at a fair price! Happy hour is fun in the hotel bar, sometimes with live music. The spa was great and we enjoyed good value relaxing massages. Child friendly and small dog friendly hotel. A mix of ages and nationalities. I stayed once with a friend and once with family, I will be returning for my third visit as soon as I can! Thanks Mahekal for a great holiday! The Pyzers from London.

  • Stayed January 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Athaliapyzer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mahekal Beach Resort

Property: Mahekal Beach Resort
Address: Calle 38, Entre Avenida 5a y Zona Federal Maritima, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico (Formerly Shangri-La Caribe)
Phone Number:
Region: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#17 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#19 Spa Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#22 On the Beach Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#22 Luxury Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#30 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Mahekal Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 196
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Mahekal Beach Resort is a legendary resort village located on 800 feet of white sand beach in the heart of vibrant Playa del Carmen. It has 198 thatched roof, palapa-style bungalows within steps of Fifth Avenue, the celebrated entertainment, shopping, and restaurant district of Playa del Carmen. The thousands of loyal repeat guests at Mahekal Beach Resort describe it as magical, memorable, and authentically Yucatecan. Our style is friendly and relaxed, a unique Caribbean experience where you can rock gently in a hammock on your private terrace and enjoy undoubtedly the best beach in Playa. Our guests love the fact that we have never compromised our truly unique ambiance and style. In keeping with that style, our rooms do not offer televisions. Instead, they feature original, brightly colored, Mexican tile bathrooms, private terraces with hammocks for siestas and star gazing, and locally-crafted Mexican wood furniture in an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy our magical sanctuary. The Resort offers meal plans that include breakfast daily and lunch or dinner. This choice gives our guests the opportunity to explore the many dining options in Playa del Carmen. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mahekal Beach Hotel Playa Del Carmen
Shangri La Caribe Hotel
Shangri La Caribe Playa Del Carmen
Mahekal Beach Resort Mexico/Riviera Maya - Playa Del Carmen

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